Whether you’re into Crossfit or love a pair of Classic trainers, everyone knows about Reebok, but do you know how it all started?
Reebok actually has British roots, founded in Bolton in 1958 by brother Joe & Jeff Foster who came from a long line of shoemakers. In fact, their grandfather Joseph Foster developed some of the first track spikes, which were popular with athletes around the world - the brothers really were following in the family footsteps, weren’t they?
Did you know that Reebok was meant to be called Mercury? After failing to trademark the name for their footwear company, the brothers turned to the animal world for inspiration. The name Reebok was inspired by a type of Antelope - the Grey Rhebok. Bet you didn’t know that!
Throughout the 60s & 70s, the brothers carried on the family tradition by producing running spikes, but it wasn’t until 1979 when the brand really started to take off.
So how did Reebok gain popularity? Well, at the International Sneaker Trade Show in Chicago, Reebok caught the eye of American businessman Paul Fireman. Fireman knew he was onto a good thing and he acquired the rights to sell Reebok in North America
A fitness boom hit America in the 80s with aerobics and keep fit becoming insanely popular. It was during this time that Fireman noticed that his aerobics loving wife didn’t have workout shoes, as they weren’t typically made for women at the time. Here he saw an opportunity and created the Reebok Freestyle. The Freestyle was the first-ever athletic shoe designed just for woman and it helped Reebok get into the fitness market - the start of a beautiful relationship!
In 1984 Fireman bought all the shares in Reebok, giving him complete creative control. With no one to dampen his ideas, Fireman made sure that the brand’s athletic shoes were not only functional but also fashionable - because who only wears trainers to the gym?
Reebok shoes were something that could be worn everywhere, from the gym to the streets, and by 1988 Reebok had a bigger share of the athletic footwear market than Nike - now that’s pretty big.
In 2005 Reebok was acquired by adidas, and since then the brand has stayed true to its sporting roots. In 2015 Reebok started an ongoing collaboration with Crossfit to make high performance clothes specifically designed for the sport.
Reebok’s Famous Faces
So who’s been spotted sporting Reebok? Basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal has been a long time fan of the brand and even has a shoe named after him - the Reebok Shaqnosis (google it, it is one funky shoe). Victoria Beckham released two sportswear collaborations with Reebok - maybe she should have been Sporty Spice? Famous rappers such as 50 Cent and G Unit have also signed deals with Reebok. Talking of rappers, did you know that Jay-Z was Reebok’s first-ever non-athlete ambassador? His limited edition S Carter Reebok shoe sold out in minutes. Proving their popularity with rappers, Reebok collaborated with Kendrick Lamar in 2015 who put his own spin on the iconic Classic Leather and Club C styles.
What’s in a logo?
Reebok’s logo has undergone many changes over the years. The first logo was the Union Jack, which can still be spotted on some of their more classic shoes. The Union Jack then transformed into the Vector logo, which shows a deconstructed Union Jack across a race track. Finally, in 2014, Reebok repositioned itself as a fitness brand and with that the logo underwent another transformation; the Vector was ditched in favour of the Delta logo. For those not in the know, the delta logo is a triangle with each side standing for a different part of a person's transformation: physical, mental and social - how’s that for symbolism?
Keeping it Classic
The recent retro boom in the fashion industry has led to Reebok deciding to bring back some of their beloved nostalgic styles from the brand’s archive - and we’re glad they did because you can’t beat a pair of Reebok Classics!
The most popular Reebok trainers
Can’t tell your Club C’s from your Aztreck’s? Have no fear our handy guide to Classic Reebok styles with have you clued up in no time.
The shoe that started it all, the Freestyle is the 80s in a shoe. Released in 1982 the high top style was perfect for the aerobics craze. Did you know that Jane Fonda wore Freestyles in her iconic fitness tapes?
The Reebok Classic Leather is instantly recognisable, released in 1983 the Classic was not only sporty but stylish. While no longer seen as a sports shoe, Classic’s can still be easily spotted on any street thanks to its comfort. Also, did you know that the Classic is one of the only Reebok shoes to feature the original Union Jack logo?
Hitting the market in 1993, the Aztrek was designed by former footballer Christian Tresser and released as a running shoe. Noting the nostalgia trend, Reebok re-released the Aztrek, in 2018, and we think that with its chunky silhouette and bright colourways, the Aztrek is the ultimate 90s shoe.
The Club C (fun fact - the C is short for champion) was released in 1985 at the height of the tennis trainers trend. Designed to look good on and off the court, the Club C is a classic shoe that has stood the test of time.
Inspired by a ski boot, the Instapump Fury is Reebok’s most out-there shoe and it’s loved and hated in equal measure. Released in 1994, the Instapump Fury was designed to give its wearer the ultimate fit, equipped with a hollow pump mechanism which could be inflated to change the shape of the shoe. The technology was so revolutionary it led to competitor Nike imitating it.
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